Bay Area organizations work to clean up thousands of pounds of trash left behind on Fourth of July

There's a lot to clean up after a holiday like the Fourth of July, from the remnants of fireworks to the trash from large gatherings, and organizations across the Tampa Bay area spent their day Friday keeping our beaches beautiful.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful volunteers were ready with buckets, gloves and bags to pick up all the bottles, caps, bags, cardboard and other trash from the holiday.

"The larger group was at Courtney Campbell Causeway, and we came up with about 504 pounds of trash," said Allan Antolik, the deputy director of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

Antolik said they noticed a difference this time around in the Causeway area.

"In years past, we have seen literally, like, crates of fireworks that had been set up and lit off from the causeway and then left behind," said Antolik. "This year, the city locked the gates down. It must have been at night. And then people weren't allowed to go in there, which, when it came to trash and the leftover, left behind fireworks, there was way less than ever before."

Overall, the City of Tampa said its crews cleaned up 4,700 pounds of trash from July 4, from the Courtney Campbell area to Picnic Island, Cypress Point and Davis islands. The cleaning at the Courtney Campbell Causeway area was done in partnership with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, a spokesperson for the City of Tampa’s Parks and Recreation Department said.

READ: Several fireworks-related fires, injuries reported throughout Hillsborough County, officials urge caution

Keep Pinellas Beautiful kept volunteers busy, too. Megan Jackson said Treasure Island banning personal fireworks on the beach lightened their load this year compared to 2023.

"Probably we had the most volunteers at Treasure Island, so we were able to collect 200 pounds from that one beach. We also collected a pretty good amount from Clearwater Beach, about 100 pounds there," said Megan Jackson, the program coordinator with Keep Pinellas Beautiful.

The director of Keep Pinellas Beautiful said 66 pounds of July 4 trash was also collected at the Safety Harbor Waterfront Park.

All that work matters not just for wildlife, but also for our local neighborhoods and storm drains.

"We really want for people to take ownership of the areas that they call home and just have pride in their neighborhoods," said Jackson. "So, I feel like there’s kind of a ripple effect. When one person starts doing it, other people start noticing and then we end up having less litter overall."

Antolik said cleaning up after the Fourth of July is that last chance to catch the trash before it makes its way into our waterways. So, environmental cleanup organizations urge everyone to step in and dispose of any fireworks debris or trash you see over the weekend.

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